Plymouth State Ready to Make 2012 Debut

PLYMOUTH, N.H. The Plymouth State University men's lacrosse season gets underway this Saturday, Mar. 10, when the Panthers travel to Biddeford, Maine, for a non-conference debut against the University of New England.

Saturday's contest will be the first of eight straight road games for PSU to open the season, but the Panthers will be at home for five of the final six. The Panthers make trips to Castleton State College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Saint Joseph's College (Maine) and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the month of March, followed by a visit to Clark University and Salem State University in early April.

The first home game at Panther Field is set for Wednesday, Apr. 11, against Curry College, before the team wraps up the regular season with four straight conference home games.

The annual LEC Tournament begins on Tuesday, May 1, with the champion being crowned on May 5 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

2012 PSU Men's Lacrosse Outlook

Plymouth State welcomes back 17 veterans under fourth-year head coach Gordon Webb, and with 19 newcomers Coach Webb says this might be the strongest team since he's been at PSU.

"I don't make any predictions, but I truly believe this is the best group of the four years," said Webb. "They handle the ball better than any of the others, and they have the best team attitude. They're all willing to work hard and willing to give to the team."

PSU is coming off a 7-8 season in 2011, and Webb says that is part of the motivation for this year's squad.

"We have some strong upper class leadership, and they are a determined group," said Webb. "But the freshmen are also really strong players, too, so it's a good mix."

The Panthers should have a solid defense with the return of two starters junior co-captain Paul McInerney (Scituate, Mass.) and classmate Justin Vercruysse (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./ Yorktown). They will be joined by freshman Mike Curley (Billerica, Mass./Billerica), a former high school All-American, and Webb says junior Sean Allen (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) will also be in the defensive rotation.

Senior co-captain Jack Tyo (East Sandwich, Mass.) has the most experience among the returning goalies and has the inside track on the starting job, but sophomore Jesse Kutz (Hopkinton, Mass.) is playing well and will likely see playing time, according to Webb.

PSU has a solid group of offensive midfielders, led by junior co-captain Ty Long (Dover, N.H./ Dover) and classmates Mike Ventura (Columbia, N.J./North Warren Regional) and Stephen Patch (Newbury, N.H./Kearsarge). Fellow juniors Shawn McEvoy (Spring, Texas) and Chris Moloney (Newton, Mass./Newton South) will also see significant playing time, and freshman Ross Murphy (Billerica, Mass./Billerica) looks like one of the top newcomers.

Coach Webb is pleased with his midfield specialists, including long-stick middles sophomore Adam Nassaf (Marblehead, Mass.) and Scott Pelligrinelli (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) and short-stick middies senior Jared Woodell (Glens Falls, N.Y.) and junior Devon Smith (Plattekill, N.Y./Wallkill Senior). The coach could also look to freshmen Andy Ripley (South Paris, Maine/Oxford Hills) and Andrew Finocchio (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield).

Sophomore Zach Frank (Wakefield, Mass.) is the top returning attackman after leading the team with 26 goals last season. Sophomore Chris Annunciata (Waltham, Mass.) could move into the starting line-up, and freshman C.J. Frates (Merrimack, N.H./Kimball Union Academy) has shown the most promise among the newcomers.

PSU will be aiming for home-field advantage in the Little East Conference play-offs in May.

"Keene State is still the team to beat in the LEC, and Eastern Connecticut is extremely strong," said Webb, "but I think it's a toss-up among the rest of us. We haven't practiced outside yet, so we're not sure how good we can be, but give us a few games under our belts and we'll see."

2012-03-08



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